Surrounded by neat stacks of water bottles, Gatorade, boxes of granola bars, chips and packages of snack crackers, Carrie Adams watched out the window at Silver Creek High School for the next car to collect the items.
The organized chaos glimpsed Friday was part of students’ efforts to help firefighters on the front lines of battling the CalWood Fire, Lefthand Canyon Fire and East Troublesome Fire.
Adams said students in the Silver Creek Leadership Academy put out a call for water and snack donations for firefighters. The leadership academy is a four-year program that seeks to teach students how to be leaders by getting involved in helping their community. With the fires burning nearby, students wanted to help because they saw how their community had been devastated, said Adams said, a program coordinator for SCLA.
“We have got kids that have been evacuated. We have teachers and staff members that have been evacuated,” Adams said. “So, it hits home.”
People were encouraged to drive by the school Thursday and drop off donations. Volunteers then coordinated for the donations to be dropped off at fire stations. Adams said she was overwhelmed by the community’s response.
“We were absolutely blown away by the amount of stuff that came to school,” Adams said. “It was way more than we anticipated and were able to handle, but that’s a good problem.”
Adams approximated they had delivered eight car loads of donations. She said school officials communicated with area fire stations, including the Longmont Fire Department, to see what they needed and to drop off snacks and water. As of Friday morning, Adams said donations had been dropped off at Longmont, Lyons and Niwot fire stations.
Students on Thursday and Friday, rallied to help collect and sort donations.
Sophomore Emma Milczuk, 15, of Longmont, said she saw the billowing smoke and flames spreading along the foothills. Milczuk said that she knew classmates who had been evacuated and firefighters on the front lines. On Thursday she helped to unload cars as they streamed into the parking lot.
Milczuk said she hopes the donations send a message to local firefighters.
“I was hoping (firefighters) know they’re supported and that we appreciate all the work they’re doing,” Milczuk said.
Fellow student, Julianne Johnston, a 16-year-old junior from Longmont who volunteered Thursday to sort items as they came in, echoed this.
“I think it will help show them how much the community cares about them,” Johnston said. “We are not just worried about the fires, but also (the safety) of firefighters. We know how important their jobs are and we appreciate them.”
When asked how the community can help local firefighters, Patrick Kramer, spokesperson for the Longmont Fire Department, said in a phone interview Thursday that officials want to streamline donation response. Kramer encouraged people, who want to help, to first take a look at a list on the Longmont, Fire, Police and Community Health and Resilience Facebook page.
Friday marked the last day of donation collections. The response, Adams said, showed how eager people were to help.
“It’s just a reminder of how great our community is,” Adams said.